No agreement between striking Hollywood writers, studios on resuming talks, WGA says

LOS ANGELES, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Writers Guild of America (WGA) negotiators met on Friday with representatives of the major studios for the first time in a three-month strike by Hollywood writers to discuss whether contract talks can resume, but the guild said no agreement was reached.

The WGA said in a statement to its members that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which negotiates on behalf of Walt Disney (DIS.N), Netflix (NFLX.O), said it needed to consult with member studios before moving forward.

The AMPTP did not immediately issue a public statement on the meeting, and it did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 11,500 members of the writers’ guild walked out May 2, citing an impasse over pay, streaming residuals and other issues such as setting curbs on the use of artificial intelligence.

In its statement following Friday’s meeting, the WGA said the AMPTP was willing to increase its offers on a “few writer-specific TV minimums and talk about AI” but did not indicate willingness to engage in screenwriters’ issues and other proposals.

“In addition to a comprehensive response from the AMPTP on our proposals in all work areas, we will need to address issues arising from the strike, including a health care benefit extension and additional plan funding, reinstatement of striking writers, and arbitration of disputes arising during the strike,” the WGA said.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said before the Friday meeting she was encouraged by the reopening of communication, as the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ dual strikes negatively impact the economy.

Members of the Screen Actors Guild also went on strike on July 14 after being unable to reach an agreement with the studios on a new three-year contract.

The work stoppage is taking a toll on florists, caterers, costume suppliers and other small businesses that support the entertainment industry.

Ahead of Friday’s meeting, the writers and studios groups traded pointed statements.

The WGA’s negotiating committee said it was time for the studios to abandon the tactics they used during the previous writers’ strike in 2007-08, including allegedly spreading misinformation about the real impact of the strike.

“We challenge the studios and AMPTP to come to the meeting they called for this Friday with a new playbook,” the WGA said in an email. “Be willing to make a fair deal and begin to repair the damage your strikes and your business practices have caused the workers in this industry.”

The AMPTP called the WGA rhetoric “unfortunate.”

“Tomorrow’s discussion with the WGA is to determine whether we have a willing bargaining partner,” the AMPTP said in a statement, adding “Our only playbook is getting people back to work.”

Previously, the group said it had offered writers generous increases in compensation, and put forward improvements in the residuals paid to writers for making their movies and TV shows available on streaming services.

The twin job actions by writers and actors are rippling broadly through the entertainment industry, halting most work on scripted series for the fall TV season as well as film production.

Fox is expected to announce that television’s Emmy Awards will be rescheduled to air in January due to the strikes, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a person familiar with the plans.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros Discovery (WBD.O) warned investors Thursday that uncertainty over the dual strikes could delay film releases and impact its ability to produce and deliver content.

Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles
Additional reporting by Danielle Broadway in Los Angeles and Gokul Pisharody in Bengaluru
Editing by Mary Milliken, David Gregorio and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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